Many online degree programs in geographic information systems require prospective students to submit an essay, letter of intent or statement of purpose as part of their admissions package. Don't be tempted to substitute a resume and cover letter for this essay! Not only does a well-written essay show your seriousness in wanting to pursue an online Master's degree in geographic information systems, it shows that you have the writing skills necessary to excel in an online learning environment. A good admissions essay needn't be cute or clever. It is enough to explain your professional background and to talk honestly about your educational goals and how you feel the program can help you reach them. Of course, you also need to pay special attention to neat formatting, correct spelling and proper grammar. You want to present the image of a serious student who is ready for the challenge of an advanced degree in geographic information systems.